Enticed by the abundance of vowels and motivated by a spirited delight in facilitating personalised and human visitor experiences, Hakim is a digital content strategist at Wavetec. She specialises in the articulation of queue management and self-service solutions, edifying them to wider networks of businesses.
In This Blog:
- What do long queues mean for your restaurant?
- What factors influence the waiting experience in restaurants?
- How can the waiting experience be shortened and improved?
The restaurant industry is unique in that customers spend a significant amount of time on-premises, as they eat, talk and relax. Other than takeaway, patrons choose the restaurant they eat at based on their choice of cuisine, the ambience on offer and the customer service. Part and parcel of this ambience and service delivery are wait times and queuing experience.
Hunger as an instinct tends to cloud others, impacting decision making and behavior. And if the wait at your favorite restaurant is long, your stomach is grumbling and the perceived wait time seems too long to bear, irritability and frustration is bound to rise. These negatively impact the quality of service and hurt business profitability.
In the US, average restaurant wait times are 23 minutes. And it is estimated that by completely doing away with queues and waits, restaurants stand to benefit from an approximate 15% increase in revenue generated. With the difference of 20 odd minutes, your business will not only experience improved service quality but also operational efficiency and a wider loyal customer support base.
Covid19 and restaurants - what can we expect?
The entertainment and retail industry took a debilitating hit when the pandemic shuttered businesses and bound customers to their homes. Digitization of operations became essential and home deliveries, online shopping and appointment scheduling services were on the rise.
Despite products and services being available, the experience of shopping in person, dining in person and enjoying retail therapy is still very much alive and valued! Customers enjoy visiting establishments to sit, relax, eat, enjoy and recuperate. And they can enjoy it all now, with the addition of queue management solutions that monitor visitor volumes, effectively direct them to service areas and maintain the contactless and safe quality of service that is now an industry norm.
Read our blog post on the impact of Covid19 on the entertainment industry.
Why should Restaurants care about Queue Management?
Some restaurants use queues to signal to potential customers that their food and service is in demand, more so than potential supply. It shows the success of your venture and the loyalty of the customer base that they are willing to wait any length of time to be served. They value the food and service that much.
However, the majority of restaurants can not get away with long queues in the long term. Customers react to tedious and stressful queues in the following ways:
- Frustrated, they give up on the queue and choose another establishment to dine at
- Some will return to try their luck at the queue another day, while others will permanently choose other options
- They register their feedback, with reviews on online platforms, google forms or via text message - and will influence potential customers with their opinion
The bottom line is that customers are lost and the business gains a negative reputation.
What factors influence customer queuing experiences?
Before setting off to fix and improve the queuing experience of your customers, it is essential to check the metrics that directly impact patron journey flows.
Some are detailed below:
- Transparency of queuing information
When customers do not know how long the estimated wait will be, when their turn will arrive, how many people are ahead of them in the queue, and other related queries, their experience with your business is soured.
This lack of informational transparency makes perceived wait times seem longer than actual wait times. The former has a greater impact on customer satisfaction than the latter.
- Lack of engaging and informative signage
A sure way to reduce perceived wait times is to deploy digital signage that uses bright and engaging displays to inform, guide and entertain waiting customers.
Inform patrons of new offers and new additions to the menu, discounts and promotions. Remind them of SOPs, occupancy limits and social distancing guidelines.
Guide patrons around the premises, aiding them in queuing in the correct place, clearing up room for staff and visitor traffic movements. And once their turn arrives, guide them to their tables and places.
- Uncomfortable waiting areas/environments
Your queues reach around the block, and your patrons are waiting in all sorts of weather conditions. Be it raining, hail, snow, scorching heat, etc.
They are waiting in-person, with no space to sit, or rest. And the longer the wait takes, the more exhausted and inconvenienced your patrons get.
Such waiting conditions affect the dining experience for your customers, and factor in on their decision to return. A decision that weighs the value of the dining experience and the food, with that of the wait. And it is unlikely that after such repeated lapses in standardized customer service will have a permanent impact.
How to Manage Long Queues in Restaurants?
Patrons express customer loyalty towards your business because they value your food and customer service standards. But if queues go unchecked, there is a real threat that loyalty will not be maintained. Patrons will prioritize their time over other factors and choose another establishment. And it is much harder to win back a disgruntled former customer than it is to onboard a new one!
Fear not, we have a few sure-shot solutions to guide you to queue-less and contactless customer service. Adopting a Restaurant queue management solution is the answer to your woes!
Facilitate reservation scheduling, virtual check-in and queuing
Pre-arrival, patrons can book, reschedule and cancel reservations online, be it on their mobile application, website, SMS channel or via messaging applications. They can also customize their booking by selecting which branch to visit, adding notes on how they would like to be served and perhaps even pre-entering their meal choice so that it is fresh and ready upon their arrival.
Wavetec reservation booking software and hardware are reliable, user-friendly and seamlessly integrated to make the customer experience as smooth as possible.
Via the channel they chose to make the reservation, patrons can check-in and even remotely and virtually queue as they wait to be seated. Using a WhatsApp Queuing solution, they check-in, are issued an electronic ticket and sent regular queuing notifications regarding estimated wait times. They have the facility to wait wherever they please, completing an errand or two while they do. They also remain socially distanced, engaging in self service activities that afford them contactless service.
- Your business can prepare better with an estimated number for the foot traffic on any given day
- Customers feel valued and can plan their daily and weekly schedules better
- Crowds on-premises become smaller and queue lengths shorter - optimized restaurant queue management
- Customer satisfaction rises as there is transparency of information and easily available self service solutions
Open Channels for Communication and patron feedback
Customers usually have something to say after they have been served, be it negative or positive. They have had an experience and would like to provide feedback on it. And restaurant management will benefit greatly from the collection and analysis of this information.
After being served, the customer is asked to register their feedback via SMS, text messaging, website, mobile application or physical in-store screen. This will then be collected, stored and analyzed so that conclusions may be drawn as to what needs improvement and what needs continuity.
- Customers feel valued, and are therefore more loyal to the business
- Feedback is collected, and results in more data-driven decision and policy making
- Your establishment is always improving and evolving to accommodate and exceed patron expectations
Other Ideas to Improve the Waiting Experience in your Restaurant
- Renovate your waiting area to make it more inviting and welcoming to queuing patrons - fans or heaters, stools or chairs, ambient music, etc. are all good ideas!
- Use social media to post images and videos of food, and to make your patrons aware of new offers, menu additions, operational hours
- Gauge, plan and implement restaurant queue management standards of procedure
- Deploy digital signage devices to inform patrons of estimated wait times, so that they can decide whether or not it is worth their time to join the queue